SUNRISE, Fla. — NHL Prospects pondering their future will be sweating a little more next summer.
The Florida Panthers will host 2015 NHL Entry Draft at the BB&T Center, June 26-27, the NHL announced Tuesday.
"I guess if you’re going to sweat the small things, they’ve got pools here in Florida, the ocean," Panthers captain Ed Jovanovski joked.
Jovanovski, Florida’s first-overall pick in 1994, says the draft returning to Sunrise will be another positive for a franchise on the rise.
"It’s a special day for all these young kids getting their foot in the door, getting drafted by a team. That’s the first step." Jovanovski said. "I think Sunrise, our organization, getting the draft is great. It’s good exposure for the team. It’s happened once here before. Obviously it went well. They want to come back. It’s good. It’s good for our team and good for the city."
Florida last hosted the draft in 2001. The Panthers held the fourth overall pick that year and selected center Stephen Weiss. The Atlanta Thrashers drafted Ilya Kovalchuk with the first overall choice.
"The draft is where the future of the NHL begins to take shape, and the BB&T Center is an ideal setting in which to enjoy the excitement as we welcome our next generation of stars," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
Hosting the event, which was tied to Broward County providing Florida with finances to upgrade the arena’s scoreboard, is expected to bring millions to the local economy.
"Nearly $10 million will be added to our economy and the world will get to see what summer is like here,” Nicki Grossman, President of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Vistors Bureau said in a statement.
The 2015 event is highly anticipated as prospect Connor McDavid will be eligible to be drafted. The center was granted exceptional player status to play in the Ontario Hockey League as a 15-year-old.
USA Today recently tagged McDavid as hockey’s LeBron James.
In his first season with the OHL’s Erie Otters, McDavid posted 25 goals and 66 points in 63 games, earning the Emms Family Award as the league’s best first-year player.
This year, McDavid is averaging close to two points per game for Erie through 34 contests. He also earned a spot on Team Canada’s U20 squad, becoming the sixth-youngest player to do so.